If you are driving over the holiday period, it pays to ensure you are not caught out by drink driving laws.
In Aotearoa New Zealand the alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20 is zero. For drivers aged 20 and over, the legal alcohol limit is 250 micrograms (“mcg”) of alcohol per litre of breath. If you elect to give a blood sample, the limit is 50 milligrams (“mg”) per 100 millilitres (“ml”) of blood.
If you are tested, you will be asked to provide an initial passive breath test or breath screening test. From there, if alcohol is detected, you will be asked to complete an evidential breath test, or a blood test. Bear in mind that if you opt to give blood you will be liable to pay the medical cost of obtaining the blood test.
If you are tested and return a breath reading of over 250mcg (or 50ml of blood), you will likely receive an instant fine (infringement notice) and demerit points.
If you are tested and return a breath reading over 400mcg (or 80ml of blood) you will likely be prosecuted by the Police through the Courts. For a first or second offence, the maximum penalty for Driving with Excess Alcohol is 3 months Imprisonment. That also comes with a minimum period of disqualification from driving of 6 months.
Generally speaking, if it is your first time in Court for a Driving with Excess Breath Alcohol charge, you will be fined, and disqualified from driving for 6 months. For a second offence, the penalty increases.
There is no clear rule of thumb about how many drinks is too many. It depends on many factors personal to the driver. For example: your body size; muscle ratio; and whether you have eaten. It pays to err on the side of caution.
It is not unusual for someone to have had a big night consuming alcohol, had a couple of hours of sleep, and then driven the next morning, to blow a reading over 400mcg. My tip is to have a meal, to space your drinks out, and drink a non-alcoholic beverage in between drinks.
If you do need to go to Court, and you would like assistance, give us a call. We appreciate the Court process can be daunting and intimidating – we are here to help with that process.
If you are disqualified, and need to drive for work purposes, you have the option to apply for a Limited License, also known as a ‘work license’. A limited license is a technical application which is accompanied by an affidavit, filed with the Court for consideration by a Judge. If granted by the Court, a Limited License Order will be issued.
You can apply for a Limited License when disqualified by the Court, or for having excess demerit points. We have successfully obtained hundreds of Limited Licenses over the years and have the knowledge of what needs to be included in the application and affidavit.
We understand that it is important to be able to drive for work purposes (and in some cases other reasons). If you need advice about a Limited License, come in and see us.
If you return a reading over 800mcg, or if you are in Court for a second Drink Driving charge within 5 years, you may be eligible for an Alcohol Interlock Sentence. This is a program which allows you to drive your vehicle, provided there is no alcohol detected in your breath. An Alcohol Interlock device is a device fitted to your vehicle and calibrated to your breath. If there is alcohol detected in your breath, your vehicle will not start, this will also count as a breach of the Alcohol Interlock Program.
Some key things to bear in mind with an Alcohol Interlock Program:
We appreciate the above process can be confusing. If you would like more specific advice as to your options; if you are already in the Court process for an Excess Breath Alcohol charge; or would like advice in relation to Limited Licenses; please contact our Litigation Team on (07) 307 0680. Alternatively, email Lisa Ebbers directly on email@example.com
We are happy to help.
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